Last time we wrote about our patio project, we had just finished rerouting our sprinkler system, excavating, and laying a bed of sand. Next up: pouring the concrete!
We decided on an "exposed aggregate" finish. We were introduced to this look by our good friends the Andersons, who recently put a beautiful exposed aggregate patio in their backyard. For the most part, it's standard concrete with extra pea gravel in it. Then the secret sauce is the last step when the very top layer of concrete is removed to expose the top layer of pea gravel, making it a little more colorful and interesting.
The Andersons really nailed their patio. It's fantastic. So we hired the same guy, Joe, to pour ours. He started the week-long project on Monday, which you've already heard all about.
Early on Tuesday, we replaced all of the little flags that were pulled out during excavation so that Joe could start defining the shape of the pour.
Joe used flexible aluminum garden edging that stakes into the ground to follow the curves of the flags. He also made sure that the edging followed a steady decline, about a ¼ inch drop for every foot from the house, so that water runs away from the foundation.
Once the edging was installed, Joe cut and laid a mesh of thin reinforcing steel that will strengthen the concrete.
The big day! Wednesday was when the concrete truck arrived and the real fun began. Joe enlisted help from a couple more guys for this part since it's a lot of physical labor that needs to be done pretty quickly.
First step was using this "buggy" to cart loads of concrete from the truck on street down to the patio.
When all of the concrete was poured, they started moving across the slab with a huge straightedge to start giving it its final shape. Afterwards, they ran a huge float on an extension pole over the entire surface to smooth out any remaining imperfections.
As a final step, the entire surface was sprayed with a strange green chemical that slows the curing process. This will allow most of the slab to cure except for the very top ½ inch or so.
Fun Fact: The crew informs me that if you're running short on this crazy chemical, Mountain Dew will work in a pinch. Really makes you think twice about drinking Mountain Dew.
Then the entire slab is covered with a plastic sheet to keep the chemical from evaporating.
Usually you can keep the Mountain Dew on the surface of the concrete for 24 hours but on a 90° day, it turns out you need to move much faster. So late Wednesday night, the guys came back to start hosing and sweeping off the top layer of concrete that hadn't cured, producing the exposed aggregate finish.
Thursday was Joe's day to clean up and let the concrete cure a bit longer.
For us, it was the first day we got to walk on it and see the exposed aggregate finish up close and personal!
On Friday, Joe came back one last time to cut expansion joints in the surface. As he explained to us, "You can't stop concrete from cracking. You can only suggest where it should crack."
He also coated the surface with a clear protectant that gives it a wet look.
Ladies and gentlemen… the finished product:
We're really happy with how this turned out but now we're more anxious than ever to get to the next step, which will be to start transforming this big ol' slab of concrete into a cozy, inviting, outdoor living space.